Carlisle River is a rural village in the Otway Ranges, 30 km south-west of Colac. The river rises to the east and is a tributary of the Gellibrand River. Its name probably arose from a place or person in England.
Farm allotments were taken up in the Carlisle River valley in 1892 and a saw mill was started in 1893. A butter factory was opened in 1899 and in 1902, when the narrow gauge railway was opened to Gellibrand and Beech Forest, dairy produce was transported across country to the Gellibrand railway station. In 1902 a public hall was built, serving as the first school (1905). There was a hotel during 1907-27.
A racecourse (1909) was converted to a recreation reserve in 1933 and reticulated water was provided for the village in 1955. Despite being on a relatively remote back road, the village maintained a steady population well into the postwar years. The butter factory continued until 2003.
East of Carlisle River there is the Carlisle State Park (5600 hectares), a sandy heathland with some wet heathland and perched lakes. It contains several rare fauna, including the Ground Parrot.
Carlisle River has a general store, a hall, a tennis court and a school (6 pupils, 2014). Church groups have met in the public hall and in 1979 a wooden church was transported from Ellerslie. The Ladies’ Guild funded the move.
The census populations have been:
|Carlisle River and environs||2006||368|
Violet J. Harris, Souvenir book of ‘Back to Carlisle River’ 1967, Church of England Ladies’ Guild, 1967
Norm Houghton, Homes in the hills: historic glimpses of Barongarook, Gellibrand, Banool and Carlisle River, Geelong, 2006